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Contributed photo / Coty Wamp

Coty Wamp, the general counsel to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, is running to be the district attorney general for Hamilton County.

"After careful consideration and receiving encouragement throughout our community, I am preparing to run for District Attorney General in the 11th Judicial District," Wamp said in a statement to the Times Free Press on Wednesday. "We need proactive, energetic, and transparent leadership in this important position. As crime in our community continues to rise at an alarming rate, it is imperative that our district attorney leads with integrity and brings forward solutions."

Wamp said serving as a criminal defense attorney, a prosecutor and in law enforcement "has given me a comprehensive understanding of our criminal justice system and the challenges we face here in Hamilton County."

She said a more formal announcement will come at a later date.

A year ago, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond appointed Wamp to fill the newly created general counsel position.

In her position now, Wamp provides in-house legal counsel and advice on investigations, daily operations, policy matters and public media inquiries to the sheriff's office.

She previously worked as an assistant public defender in Hamilton County and an assistant district attorney in Bradley County after receiving her law degree in 2014 from the University of Tennessee College of Law, the release states.

A week ago, Hamilton County commissioners again called for District Attorney General Neal Pinkston to appear before the board and explain the payment of his relatives employed in the DA's office.

Pinkston, who was first elected DA in 2014, married an employee, Melydia Clewell, in 2019, although the union in a neighboring county was not widely known until the Times Free Press reported it in May. He later appointed her brother, Kerry Clewell, as an investigator for the office.

In July, the Times Free Press reported that Pinkston planned to move the Clewells — both of whom are legally state employees — to the county payroll to settle nepotism concerns raised by a state senator.

Then, Boyd and Hamilton County Commission Chairman Chip Baker decided to ask Pinkston to appear before the commission and explain the plan. Pinkston said he was unavailable during each of two proposed dates to do so.

Since then, state records obtained by the newspaper have shown that Kerry Clewell had already been receiving $14,000 of his $48,000 salary from the county through a county supplement.

In a previous statement, Pinkston said his employment of the relatives was both ethical and legal.

Pinkston earns $163,128 a year as district attorney general.

The election for district attorney is in May 2022.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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